Thanks for reading!

Any use of real places, events, corporations or products within this text are strictly for the purpose of adding realism and authenticity to the writing. Critiques are always welcome. Also, please let me know what you think of the format. If you want more information about any rodeo events, there are tons of resources online.

Written exclusively for Nifty Archives. This story involves sexual relationships between boys, aged 15 and older. If this is illegal in your area, please do not read on. This story is work of fiction. Any similarities between real places, people, and events is completely coincidental and unintentional. If you read the archives frequently, then you know the drill. Take the rest with a grain of salt. This story is (c) 2007-08, Milos. All rights reserved! Please do NOT repost this story without permission.

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There's a Hilights for Kids magazine on the coffee table. I accidentally kick it with my foot, and it falls on the floor. There's nobody else sitting in the lobby. I have half a mind to let it stay there.

No sense in being rude. I stand up and lean over the end of the table. Throw it back on top of a stack of women's magazines. Things about housekeeping, baking, staying thin, and ways to 'sex up' your man.

"Huh." I think about picking it up, but I don't know how I'd explain myself to Momma if she came out and caught me. Guess I'm gonna have to do what I always do. Sit and fidget.

I walk a few laps around the room, stretch the 'ol legs. Each time I pass the door to Reagan's office, I can almost hear them talking. I'd never thought about it. The music's off, too. Maybe...

Tiptoe to the door. Brace myself up against the frame with my hands so I don't fall into it. Press my ear to the wood. It's a bit muffled, but I think I can get the gist.

"...Goin' in circles." It's momma.

"How are things going at home?"

"Good until Matthew came... ...Lem all twisted up the wrong way. He's fighting... ...constantly now."

"And you think... ...of Matthew?"

I wish I could hear them better. I pull my ear away a little. It seems to help.

"I just don't know about them being friends anymore. I don't want something to happen to Lem if Matthew decides to do something stupid."

"How does he seem when he's around Matthew?"

"I don't know. I just saw them when they came into the kitchen. Lem's always been the one to lead him around. Matthew's always just followed like a duckling to his momma."

"Do you have any reason to believe either one of them would hurt themselves?"

"Matthew's very sick. I always heard kid's will keep doing it until they succeed."

"What, suicide?" She pauses. "That's not entirely true. Just judging by some of the things Lem's told me about the situation, and knowing where Matthew has been over the past year, I would consider him low risk."

"What did he tell you about it?"

"I know as a mother it's your instinct to want to know about these things, but I can't really say too much about it unless he reveals it to you himself. But I do think it would be good for both of them to be around each other. It would help in the healing process a little, and it would give Lem some closure as they grow apart over college."

"How can you know Matthew's low risk?"

"I know a lot of the counselors in his program. I couldn't talk specifics with his case workers because of confidentiality, but they were able to tell me he was making great progress while he was in the program, and I don't have any reason to believe that he tried to kill himself on multiple occasions. His first two months were hard on him, but that kind of thing is hard on anybody."

"Can you guarantee me that Lem's not gonna get hurt again?"

"No. No, I can't. But being hurt is a part of a healthy psychological development. Usually teens like Lem have a harder time dealing with it because of the circumstances of what they were having to deal with. Suicide is an exceptionally hard thing for kids to understand, and I think he's pulled through it well.

"In my opinion, the only reason he's fighting you every step of the way is because he's just trying to understand why you can't accept Matthew as being part of his life again. Like with small children, if you take away a toy for no reason, they scream and kick, don't they? He's not fighting you, he's fighting for Matthew."

# # #

There're plenty of superstitions in rodeo. As a rider, you live and die by them. Someone once came up with a superstition for anyone about to get onto Backdraft. I think it was a rider out of Wyoming. He said when you ride backdraft, you don't ride him with any superstitions.

With 681, all bets are off.

# # #

A gate across the arena slams shut. Some kid on the back of a bronc gets bucked off, flies off to the side and lands face down. Must'a knocked the wind outta him. He lifts his head and sucks in air like he's choking. This place used to be a warehouse before the 4H club bought it. It's pretty good for indoor practices, especially in the colder months.

I come up behind a chute and help the new coach get the flank strap on my steer. Looks like everything's set. I stand up on the side of the gate and wait for a spotter. Looks like he's busy with another bronc rider. I need to get in as much riding time as I can before I start hittin' the big ones.

The spotter's a big guy named Jimbo. Looks like he belongs on a Harley Davidson or something. He steps up on the gate and checks everything. "Ready?"

I nod, climb over. I get my legs over his sides, start getting my rope tied off.

Jimbo has me by the shoulder straps. In case something happens and he has to yank me outta the chute. A guy his size, it wouldn't be hard. There are probably saddles that weigh more than me.

I make sure I'm even, nod at the gateman. "Pull!"

He yanks the chute open, and my steer takes to buckin'. Bails straight out. This one's got a shallow buck. He's more about moving forward than jumpin' up. Then, he just stops bucking and starts running around the arena.

"Really?" I yell at the back of it's head. I put my free hand down behind my butt and look over my shoulder. Flank strap's gone. Now we're just going for a ride.

"What happened?" The coach is sitting on the fence.

"Strap just fell off!"

"Keep that hand up until you hear the buzzer, even if he stops."

The steer runs close to the chutes. I get my hand lose and leap for one of the gates. Let the steer get out from under me. I jog up to the coach. "What happened with that strap?"

A kid runs up behind me. Has the strap in his hand. He hands it to me.

I look it over. "Looks like the stitchin' on the buckle came undone." I hand it up to coach.

He looks at it, throws it over his shoulder. "Looks like it was pretty old. Probably pretty cheap to begin with." He hops down. Walks along with me while we head toward the small set of bleachers on the east side of the building. Puts a hand on my shoulder. "Lookin' good. We'll get you back up on another one here in a bit. That would've been a re-ride, anyway."

This new guy's been pretty cool. Doesn't yell or cuss like my old coach used to. He was a pro rodeo rider for a long time. Sat on some sort of committee, did some referee jobs here and there. Too bad I won't be around much longer. Had he been around sooner, I might'a been riding steers when I was sixteen.

When he smiles, his eyes get deep crows feet. Guess rodeo ages a person pretty good. "Let me get everyone through another go round."

I smile. "Thanks, man." I turn and walk toward the bleachers.

Mattie's sitting there, watching me walk up. "What happened to your strap?"

I take a few steps up the bleachers and sit next to him. "The buckle stitching frayed. Probably made in Mexico or China or something like that."

He nods.

"I thought you'd be in deep shit right now."

He shrugs. "Mom knows I'm here. Told her I was going to come down for ol' time sake."

"Dude, I'm sorry about my mom. I didn't know she was gonna be a bitch and do that."

He seems distracted. "Don't worry about it."

"I think Momma might be coming around."

"To what?"

"You. I overheard her and Miss Reagan talking."

"Oh." He leans over and crosses his arms across his knees, rests his chin on them.

"What's wrong?"

"I didn't think everyone was going to have a problem with me when I came back."

"Who's everyone?" I sigh. "Shadow, don't you worry about Momma. She was brought up in a different time, and she don't understand it. I'm just happy you're back."

He tilts his head toward me, smiles. "You're the only part of me that feels normal anymore."

"So, your mom wasn't mad that you were hanging out with me?"

"Strange, but she wasn't. She was pissed that I was gone all day and I didn't tell her where I was. Still don't trust me, I guess. I wonder if it'd be different if I hadn't done what I did."

"Can't go back and change the past, now."

He moans. "I know." He sits up. Nods toward the arena. "Looks like they got you a cow."

# # #

Momma keeps pretty quiet while she drives. Keeps scanning the road.

I feel something itchin' inside me. I don't want this to be another yelling match. "Momma?"


"I was wondering if it might be okay if Mattie came over for dinner sometime in the next few days."

She just glances at me and looks back to the road. "Maybe. I'll have to think about it." There's a little something in her tone.

"What's wrong?"

She shakes her head. "Nothing. Got a lot to do this week."

I scratch my arm. "You're hedging me."

"Lem, let's not do this right now." She sighs loudly, like I'm gettin' on her bad side.

I lean my head against the doorframe. "Sorry."

We drive in quiet a little. "Why don't you have him come over for your graduation party instead?"

I perk up. "Really?"

She nods. "I'm supposed to go have coffee with his mom tomorrow or the next day. Don't be surprised if he can't come, though."

Something inside me doubts it'll be a problem. "Okay."

"Don't forget we're out of town this weekend for Chase's 4H thing."

"Dad's going, too?"

"Yeah. He said he'd help Uncle Grant with some things around their place. He's gonna let us stay there so we don't have to get a hotel."

"Cool, I guess."

"Just remember, you father doesn't want anyone coming over while we're gone." She looks over at me. "Maybe Matthew can come over and watch some movies or something, if things go okay with his mom tomorrow."

My mind falls in the gutter. Movies my ass. "Why wouldn't they?"

"Things are complicated, honey. We haven't really sat down in talked in a little more than a year. People just can't pick right up where they left off." She sighs again. "Your therapist and I had a good, long talk about some things."

I hold my tongue.

"I just want to make sure she's okay with everything, first."


"I'm sorry we're not gonna be here to watch you ride."

"It's just a steer." I look at her. "I'm just happy I get to ride a bull at the fair."

"God, I wish you'da stuck with horses. I don't like those things, Lem. They give me a bad feeling."

"I'll be fine. Just means I have to run quicker when I fall off."

"Just you be careful this weekend. I don't want you to get hurt. If you do, I'll make sure there's someone who can look after you for a day or two and get ahold of us."

I roll my eyes. "Momma..."

"Don't Momma me, sweet pea. There's a reason they call it the most dangerous eight seconds. And I can worry if I want to." She nods at me, kinda pouts her lips. "It's my job as a mom, so there." She hangs a right, drives over the railroad tracks and takes the road toward home.

# # #

"God, that commencement speech took forever." Chase flings a few strands of hair outta her face.

"Principal Granby's a bit long-winded."

"That's an understatement." She plucks a dandelion next to the steps we're sittin' on. We're waiting on the front porch for the guests to start getting here for the party. "'A school is like a hand, and each finger is like part of the school...' What was that all about? He didn't have to sit there and talk about a hand for an hour. I bet that whole thing could'a been done by ten thirty."

I laugh. "Just you wait 'till your graduation."

"It was pretty cool when you got to toss your hats."

I smile. "What, all forty of us?"

"It was still neat. You only get to do it once."

"What, throw your hat at a graduation?"

"No. Graduate high school."

I breathe in deep. "Well, I'm glad to be done with it."

"Will you come to my graduation, Lem?"

I put my arm around her back. "Of course I will!"

She puts her arms around my sides. "You're the coolest brother ever."

"You're not too bad, either."

"How did mom's coffee thing go?" She looks up at me, then sits up.

"I don't know. Didn't have the mind to ask her." I scratch the side of my leg.

"Mattie's mom's pretty cool. I don't figure she'd have a problem with you two hangin' out."

I look down the lane and spot Mattie coming toward us. He's a ways off, yet. "Guess it went okay, by the looks of it."

We sit and watch him walk toward us.

"By the way, did your little boyfriend say he was gonna be here?"

She looks at me, coy like. "He said he might drop by."

"Good. Him and I will need to have ourselves a little chat."

Her eyes get real big. "About what?"

I smile. Wicked grin. "He just needs to know I'll kick his skinny little ass if'n he doesn't keep his hands to himself."

She laughs and pushes me over. "Lem, don't you dare!"

"I'll kick his ass into next tuesday if he hurts you."

She punches me in the arm. I try to duck away, but it's not gonna do me any good. "No you're not!"

"Ooh! Ooh! I'll get out my gun and polish it when he gets here!"

"Seriously?" She crosses her arms. "Dad's are supposed to do that, Lem." She tugs the brim of my hat down, pulls it over my eyes. "Butthead."

Mattie's a stone's throw away from us now. I stand up and smile at him. Brush my hat off and put it on my head.

Chase stands up next to me, whispers. "Damn, he looks good."

I feel my face tingle. I kinda squeek. "Chase!"

She smiles at Mattie. "Hi Matthew."

He nods, grins back. "Hey, Chase."

Chase turns toward me. "I'm gonna go see if Momma needs help setting anything up." She turns around and walks inside.

I put my hands in my pockets and walk toward him. We start a lazy walk toward the barn.

"What was that all about?"

"Chase just being Chase. We were just jokin' around a little."

He cocks his head back a bit. "Ahhh."

"She thinks we'd make a good pair of lovebirds." I chuckle.

He stops and stands there. "She knows? Did you tell her?"

"She figured it out on her own. Don't worry, she's not gonna say anything." We start forward again. "Guess everyone should be gettin' here pretty quick."

"Am I the first one here?"


"Congratulations, by the way."

"Thanks!" We step into the barn. I look over my shoulder to make sure nobody's around. Grab him by the shirt collar and pull him up against a stall. I have the front of his shirt so tight my knuckles are turning white.

He puts his hand on my chest and pins me up against the gate. Inches closer and closer to my lips.

The feeling starts to take me away. It's like a baby bird flying for the first time. Your first breath of air. Lips so soft, warm and familiar. His tongue slips in my mouth, tastes like mint. He's been chompin' on a piece of gum. I can feel it in his mouth. We start playing soccer with it. What I would give to do it right now. Just to go all the way.

We pull apart, look each other in the eye. I'm chewing on a piece of stolen gum.

He leans over and puts his tongue in my ear. Whispers to me. "God, I love you."

I'm starting to get very, very hard. I have my eyes shut, feel Mattie start to take my hat off. Wait, he's got his hands on my sides. I open my eyes and look behind me.

Smokey has my hat by the button. He nods his head at me.

"We've been busted by the horse."

Mattie giggles.

I turn around and climb the rails on the gate. Reach for my hat. "Too bad we're gonna have company." Smokey dodges me. "Damn it, horse!"

"I know." He winks at me. "We'll have time to catch up on that." He comes up behind me and wraps his arms around my hips. Grabs the lump in my jeans and squeezes it.

"Boy, you're gonna get yourself into some serious trouble you ain't gonna be able to get out of."

"That's the plan."

I look over my shoulder at him. "My parents are going outta town for a few days for 4H with Chase. Momma said if things were okay with your mom, you could come over one night and watch movies."

He smiles, like he's thinkin' what I'm thinkin'. "Maybe." Frowns, like he has a thought. "I don't know if my mom's gonna let me out of her sight for a whole night. Especially when nobody's home." He squeezes me again.

I moan. "Well, think if she's not up for that, she'd let us stay at your place?"

"We'd have to see where Jenny is."

I hear someone outside, walking toward the barn. "Lem, ya' in there?"

Mattie takes a step back.

And here I am half cocked and ready to go. "Yeah!" I hop back and go into the stall. Adjust myself.

A blonde kid from 4H steps in. Adam's about a year younger than Mattie, I think. "Hey, what's goin' on?"

"Just wrastlin' the donkey before he eats my hat."

Smokey stomps his foot and whinnies.

I cross my arms. "Well, you don't have to talk to me like that."

Mattie laughs.

"Hey, look!" I point at the wall.

Smokey actually bends his neck to look where I'm pointing.

I get my hat by the brim and yank it outta his mouth. Put it back on my head. "Ha!"

He blows his lips and shakes his head.

I turn around. "There we go."

I get pushed lightly from behind. Smokey must'a nudged me with his nose.

"Asshole." I rub his nose and step outta the stall. Get an alfalfa treat and hold it flat in my hand.

Smokey wraps his lips around it and starts crunching.

"Should we go inside?"

Adam nods. "Sure." He turns and walks out.

I push Mattie with my gaze. Guess we'll have to finish this later.

# # #

I have something up my sleeve. For tonight, I mean. It's just him and me. Alone. I was able to score some booze from Dawson. Just a little Boone's Farm. Something sweet and cheap. Just gotta remember to hide the evidence before Dad and Momma get home.

Momma said I could get some movies by Pay Per View on the satellite dish. Left some money to pick up a pizza or something from Safeway.

A knock on the door.

Everything's ready. Wine's in the fridge. Got a candle burning on the coffee table in the living room. All showered and scrubbed up. Even embarrassed myself and found a bottle of that clear stuff at the pharmacy in Havre. The stuff Jeff had.

I remember passing it in the grocery store a few weeks back. The toothpaste is right across from the condoms and girly products and stuff. There it was. Personal Lubricant. I think I must have turned bright red on the spot just thinkin' about it. I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Not at the Safeway in Burlee. Someone might'a seen me.

I pull the door open. Smile big at Mattie. "Hey."

He doesn't say anything, just grins. He steps in, turns around and closes the door behind him. Stands there for a second.


He turns around and starts pushing me toward the couch. Doesn't even wait, just starts unbuttoning my fly. My pants hit the floor faster than I can bat an eyelash. He pushes me onto the couch. Kneels down and puts his hands on the side of my head, swirls his tongue around inside my mouth.

I wrap my legs around his back.

He's got ahold of my cock good. Gives it a few good squeezes. Drops down and starts sucking on my balls. Looks up at me, watches me while he works. "Ready to fly away?"

I've heard that somewhere before. "Huh?"

Before I can say anything else, he's got my legs over his shoulders and his face lodged in my ass. I never thought he'd do something like this.

I'm buckin' like a horse. Probably screaming like one, too. He just keeps right at it. It's deep and wet. Tingles.

He works a finger in. Licks my sack and starts suckin' on my pole, I mean... really suckin'. Sticks another finger in and works them around. Hits me just right.

My hips are flying around like a car out of control. "Mattie--Mmmm... Stop! I'mma cum!"

He doesn't stop.

It doesn't take me long at all. Less than a minute and I shoot off right in his mouth. "Ahhhh!"

He keeps going. Swallows all of it, and I'm still goin'. Doesn't feel like it's ever gonna end.

"Unnnn! Nnnnn! Uhhhhh!"

He pushes up on the button, just jams his finger into it. Keeps throbbing. He stops, rests his lips all the way down me. Pulls his fingers out and suckles it for a minute.

I feel my forehead break into a sweat. Try to talk between breaths. "God, Shadow, you in a hurry?"

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that."


He kisses me. I can taste me on his breath, and it just seems to make me harder. I should be as floppy as an empty sock right now.

"Soon as I catch my breath, you're gonna get it!"

"Don't worry, we have a lot of catching up to do."

"I never thought in a million years you'd go at my flank like that."

"Just remembered how good it felt. Thought I'd return the favor." He smiles.

"Damn, you're evil." I sigh. "Want something to drink while I recharge?"

"I think you're already to go, by the state of things."

The phone rings.

Mattie looks at the ceiling. "Fuck!"


"It's probably my mom."

I walk over to the phone and look at the caller ID. Hedquist."You're right." I hand him the receiver.

"Hey mom." He twirls the cord around his finger. "Yeah." Pauses. "I don't know. We got some movies to watch, so I think we'll be fine." He holds his hand over the microphone side. "What we doing for dinner?"

"Mom left me money to go to Safeway." I shrug. "Get a pizza?"

He talks back into the phone. "We'll prolly end up goin' to Safeway here in a bit. Get a pizza or something." He pauses. "Mom, we're not gonna just pig out on junk food." He sighs. Rolls his eyes. "We'll be fine here by ourselves." He reaches over and squeezes my dick. "No, we talked about this. We're not gonna get into any trouble. -- I remember. Don't worry. Okay... o... yes ma'am. Okay. Love you too." He hangs up the phone. "Pain in the ass."

"It's okay."

"Dude, ten to one she's probably gonna call every fifteen minutes to make sure I'm still alive."

"Why'd she let you come over if she's gonna be all paranoid, then?"

"She wants Jenny getting rest. They're going to induce day after tomorrow if the kid doesn't decide to make an exit before then. Mom didn't want us to keep her up, and she knows I wouldn't shut up 'till she let me come over here." He squeezes me again.

I gasp. "Damn it, you're gettin' in over your head."

"Right where I wanna be." He kisses me.

The phone rings. I look over at the caller ID, look at Mattie. "Take a guess."

"Damn it!" He picks up the phone. Sounds a bit annoyed. "Hello, mom." He starts jerkin' me off a little bit. It's tender, and I almost can't stand it. "It'll be fine."

I unbutton his pants. Stick my hand down the front of his pants and push a finger up the back side of his nuts.

"No... no that's fine. Mom... Mom..." He sighs.

I get down on my knees and pull his pants down. Get his dick in my hand. He's a bigger than the last time I saw him. This could get interesting later. Suck his dick. Almost gag on it.

He pushes against the back of my head. "Mom. We're gettin' ready to watch a movie... fine, yeah, I'll call you before we go to bed. And when we get back from Safeway. Yes, mom. I'll talk to you later." He hangs up the phone. "I swear to God..."

I tug on his shirt, get him to sit down. I knock him backwards. "Payback's a bitch!" Push his legs back and go to town.

# # #

We're gettin' a little buzz worked up. Came home, ate, got naked, watched part of a movie and started drinkin'. Mattie's mom called two more times already, but it's been quiet for the past hour or so.

I'm layin' on top of him since I'm smaller than he is.

"What you thinkin' about?" He rubs my back.

"How much I want you." I kiss his neck. "How much I need you inside me."

He smiles. "You're buzzed, aren't you."

I giggle. "A little." Tug his nipple. "Will you do it?" Look up into his eyes.

"What, fuck you?"

"Mmm hmm."

"You better be plannin' on returning the favor."

"You better fuckin' believe it." I blink at him. "Let's go upstairs."

He looks over at the phone. Sighs. "Let me call my Mom so she doesn't decide to call right in the thick of it." He hugs me. "Go up. I'll meet you in a second."

I get to my feet. Feel light headed. I reach down and try to help Mattie off the couch, but almost end up falling over.

"Careful!" He laughs at me. Stands up and gets me by the mouth for a few minutes.

"Don't be long."

"I won't. Trust me."

I head up the steps to my room. I can hear him talking pretty quiet. Must not be his mom.

"I wanna talk to Mom. -- It ain't your business, now let me talk to Mom." I hear him sigh. "Ronnie, it doesn't fuckin' concern you... NO I'm not putting him on the phone. I told you it ain't your goddamned business. -- Fine! You can have your piece of shit truck back. Put mom on the fuckin' phone." There's a long pause. Keeps his voice down. "Hey mom. Told you I'd call before we went to bed. -- No, nothing's wrong. -- It's nothing, Ronnie's being a jerk. I told you I'd call, so I'm callin'. -- Yeah, you too. Goodnight."

I tiptoe to my room, light a candle. Get out the bottle of lube.

Mattie comes in behind me. Got that look in his eye.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Annoying shit."

I stand next to him and turn off the light. Wrap my arms around him. "I'm yours tonight." Shit, I forgot. I reach over to the radio on my desk. I stole Momma's Clint Black disc. Hit the play button. Got it set to play Loving Blind. "I could never stand listening to this song after you left."

"Why not?"

"It reminded me of what I lost." I pull him close. Dance with him a little bit. We get lost in a sloppy kiss. I back away, lay down on the bed with my knees up a little.

He lays down on top of me.

I wrap my legs around him and squeeze. I can feel him pressing against my crack, against my ringpiece. My legs shake because I know I want him. I reach over and grab the bottle. "Ready?"

"If you are."

I pour some in my hand. It's cold. I wrap my hand around him, get it good and slick. Rub what's left over my hole. I think I used way too much, because it's dripping all over the place. I put my face in the crook of his neck. "Go easy. You're bigger than you used to be."

He's bigger than Jeff, now.

I bite my bottom lip and wait for the pain. I feel him against the opening, the strange feeling of something going in. The pressure. I relax, like Jeff once told me. Push against it a bit.

He stops. "You okay?"

I nod. "Just go slow."

He pushes in a little bit more. I hold onto his back, grab skin and pull. Let it keep going in bit by bit. It hurts so bad, but I don't want him to stop until he's all the way in. Feel it rub past my button. Makes my dick jump. Clear fluid dribbles out the tip, the width of a hair. Sparkles in the candle light. He fills me up so much it burns inside. I feel my ass squeezing, my hole throbbing.

He stops. Feel his skin against mine. "You okay?"

"Hurts like hell."

He starts to pull out.

I put my hands on his ass and pull him toward me, force it back in. Bad idea. Feels like a sharp knife. "Stay in. I'll be fine in a while." I kiss him. Feel him squeeze his muscles. Makes it jump inside me, makes me cry out. I want to take this pain. It's Mattie's pain. "Do it, Shadow."

He pulls back a little, rocks his hips slow-like. Little motions.

I tilt my hips a little. Like riding a bull. Have my legs spread out and I can feel his stomach against my hole. Feels good to just grind up and down against it with this in me. All the warmth and wetness. Little bounces that make me feel like a wild animal. I want him in me forever.

It doesn't hurt too bad, anymore. "Fuck me. Ohhhhhhh-oh-oh-oh, God Shadow, fuck me." I'm lost in the moment, the smells. The dry, sweet smell of the lube. Mattie's underarm deodorant. Sweaty sacks. His musk.

He drags it in and out slowly. Steady.

"Please Shadow."

He leans down and whispers in my ear. "What you want me to do?"

"I want it." I'm moaning like a whimpering puppy. "Please!"

He picks up the pace. Goes a little faster. I feel his balls slapping against me. Hearts racing. Faster and faster. These two sweaty bodies sliding across each other. His forehead is sweating. Got a look in his eye I ain't never seen. Rams me. Pushes in and out... in and out... in and out. Faster and faster.

"Ugghhhhhhhhh fuuuuuck. Cum in me! Cum in me!"

He spits in his hand, starts jerkin me off. "Tell me when you want it."

I howl. "HUUHhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Nnnnn... Uh... uh... uh... uh... Nnnnnow..."

Mattie's face goes strange. "Ghhhhh... AH! AH!!"

I feel the throbbing. One more slam and I shoot all over myself. He's throwing knuckles like dice, making a mess from me, jaw quivering.

Breathing hard. He's still throbbing. I pull him on top of me. My eyes are wet. Adrenalin goin'. Still in me and I'm crying into his shoulder. Bawling. I'm... fucking crying.

He starts pulling out.

"No. Don't! Not yet." I sniffle.

He stops. "What's wrong?"

Ragged breath in. Like I'm scared to say it. "I love you."

He weaves his fingers with mine, holds my hands above my head. Kisses me. The softest kiss in all of Montana.

# # #

I dry Mattie off with a towel, smile at him.

He smiles back. Brushes his thumb down my nose and lightly bites my chin.

I pull the stopper out and let the bathtub drain, step over the side of the tub. Mattie wraps a towel around my shoulders. We don't have to say anything. We can feel it in each other.

We dry off and go to my room. I prop the window open and pull the comforter down. Snuggle in next to Shadow, sleep like a set of spoons. My head is heavy, got my arm over him. Squeeze him like to tell him good night.

He squeezes me back.

I start dozing off. Doesn't seem like I get too far, on account of the phone ringing.

"Goddamn it! I'm gonna kill that woman!" Mattie sits up.

I leap out of bed, answer the phone sittin' on my desk. Try to sound like I've just woken up. "'Ello?"

"Is Matthew there?"

"Just a sec." I hand the phone to him.

"Hello? Mom?" He pauses. "I told you we'd be fine. We were asleep. You don't need to keep -- what? -- Oh, God. Okay. -- Yeah, I'll be down in five minutes. -- No... go! Just... settle down and go." He hangs up on her. Starts browsing around for his clothes.

"What the hell was that about?"

"Jenny just went into Labor." He starts pulling his pants on. "Told me to meet them at the end of the driveway in five minutes."

"Shit." I take a few steps toward the door and turn on the light. Try to help him find his clothes. Throw his shirt at him. I slip on my PJ's and a shirt.

"Where's my coat. Fuck, my coat!"

"Come on! It's downstairs."

We run down the steps. He fumbles with his shoes and gets to his feet.

I slip on my flip-flops and hold the door open for him.

He darts out. I stay on his heels, run with him to the end of the lane.

"Just breathe, man. She's just having a baby, it happens all the time."

He stops pacing, gives me a quick kiss on the lips. "I don't know how, but I'm gonna make this up to you."

"Make what up to me?" I can see the horizon start to light up from headlights down the easement.

"Leaving in the middle of the night like this. I feel bad."

"Don't feel bad. It happens." I smile at him. Give him a kiss before the car can come up over the hill. "Love you."

"Love you too."

The car comes over the hill. Starts slowing down as it gets near.

"We got time." I nod at him. "Go."

He runs around to the passenger seat, pulls the door open. The light inside blinks on. I can see everyone inside.

Jenny's wrapped up in a blanket. Looks like she just ran a marathon. Breathing like it, too. Mattie's mom is holding her hand, coaching her through it. Ronnie's just sitting there in the driver seat. He's staring at me. Giving me a look that makes me right uneasy.

Mattie's Mom yells at him. "Hurry Matthew! Get in the fuckin' car!"

Mattie slams the door.

The car skids and takes off. Taillights disappear in a cloud of dust.

I turn around and walk to the house. Go upstairs. Take off my clothes. Get into bed. Try to fall asleep, but every sound and squeak and bump in the house freaks me out. There's nobody here if something happens. It's just me. Alone.

# # #

I slept in longer than I wanted. Chores are gonna take me forever, and I have to ride in Cut Bank tonight. I scratch myself and sit up. Try to open my eyes wide enough to wake up. Need to remember to clean the kitchen and living room when I get home tonight.

I kick on some dirty jeans and a ratty button-down. Take my old NASCAR hat off the deer antlers hangin' next to my door.

I go down to the kitchen and flick on the coffee pot. Search through the freezer for the two frozen Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit sandwiches that'll tide me over 'till lunch. I tear open the end of each package, stick them on a paper towel in the microwave.

Do some math in my head. I need to hit the highway by three if I want to get into Cutbank on time. It's already eleven. Shit.

I pull my breakfast out of the microwave, fumble with it so I don't burn my hands. They end up falling on the table. One splats cheese grease on the placemat. Take a bite of one. Hotter'n hell. Keep my lips open, suck in air through my teeth to try and cool it off. Guess I could try to blow it next time.

The phone rings. I pick up the wireless and answer it with my mouth full. "Huh-roh? Ffhhhhssssssshhh..."

Mattie laughs. "Are you eating something?"

"Uhn-hnn." Take a few chomps and swallow. It burns going down. "Fuck that's hot."

"What is it?"

"Sausage Muffin thing."

"Too bad I couldn't give you a real sausage this morning."

"Ain't never had breakfast in bed." I smile. "Pervert. What's up? How'd it go?"

"It's a boy. Big one, too. Right at eleven pounds. Twenty one inches long."

"Stop talking about your cock."

He giggles. "Who's the dirty one, now?"

"So what's going on with the rest of the day?"

"Mom took tons of pictures this morning. I think I'm just gettin' in the way. Ronnie and Jen are gonna stay with her mom for a few days. My mom's going over there to help cook and clean and everything. I'll probably just go home. What are you doing?"

"Gotta get out and do chores before I head out. I slept in way late. Need to be in Cutbank by five, and I'm doing all this shit myself. Gonna have to step on it."

"Want some help?"

"Shadow, they're my chores. I'll manage."

"I'll be there soon."

I sigh. "Mattie. What about your family? Don't you think they want you there for family time?"

"What am I gonna do? It's not my kid. Like I said, I'm just in the way."

"You think your Mom'd let you come to Cutbank with me? Be nice to have the company on the road."

"I don't think she'd even notice if I went. I'll ask. She probably won't care. Thank God for small distractions." I hear him cover the phone. Muffled talking. "Damn it. I'm gonna have to talk to you in a bit. Ronnie's stirring shit up."

I hear Ronnie in the background. "Let me talk to him."

"No. Stay out of this, Ronnie! You have your own shit to worry about. -- Lem? I'll talk to you--"

The phone crackles and clanks. "You need to leave my family alone. Just you remember--"

"Ronnie! Fuck--"

"Shut your mouth for a minute. -- You remember what I told you. Stay the fuck away from my brother." The line cuts. Dial tone.

I look at the phone like it's going to reach out and smack me. Hit the power button. I don't know how to feel about it. Get the feeling Mattie might not be coming over at all.

# # #

I drop two quarters into the payphone. Dial Momma's cell phone number.

Mattie leans up to the wall next to me, rests his arm across the top of the phone and looks around.

After a bit, she picks up. "Hello?"

"Hey Momma."

"Lem? Hey sweetie. Where are 'ya?"

"Still in Cutbank. Just wanted to let you know everything went good."

"How'd you do?"

"I got to the finals round and got third. Think I might get a little of the purse. Covered both steers pretty good."

"Wonderful! Does your coach think you'll be ready for your bull ride?"

"Haven't talked to him about it yet. It's a month off yet."

"Okay. We're going to stay down here an extra night, just so you know. I'm going to call Matthew's mom and see if it's okay if you stay with them for a night."

"Jenny had her baby last night. I don't know if you'll be able to reach her, since they're all at Jenny's folk's place. Mattie's with me, hold on." I hold the phone up to my chest. Look at Mattie. "Momma says they're staying an extra night. She was gonna call and ask your mom if I could stay with you tonight."

"I'll call."

I pull the phone to my ear. "Momma, I'll have her call you back. We're going to hit the road, so I'll call you when I get back to Burlee."

"Okay. Drive safe. I love you."

"Love you too." I hang it up. Dig two quarters out of my pocket and hold them out to Mattie.

Mattie takes them out of my hand. "Mom wants me staying at home so she knows where I am. We'd have to stay at my place, anyway." He looks at the quarters. "You didn't ride with these in your pocket, did you?"

"Hell no. I ain't stupid. It's change from the coke I bought with the fiver I had in my back pocket. The one I got after my last go-round. The concessions stand was outta ones."

"Don't tell me what color your socks are. I wanna figure it out later tonight." He grins at me.

I check the hallway. Ain't nobody around, so I take my cowboy hat off. Put it on his head. "You know what that means."

"So, your Mom wants you to stay over because they're staying an extra night?"

"I think that's what Momma wants me to do. I don't see what her thing is. I'm eighteen, I can stay home alone just fine."

He shrugs. "Gives us an excuse to pick things up where we left off."

I grin at him. "I like the way you think."

He drops the quarters in, starts dialing. "They still look at us like we're little kids. We'll always be little to them. At least 'till we're thirty." He looks up and down the hall. Smacks my ass.

I jump forward. "Ya' little shit."

He raises an eyebrow at me. "Little?" Looks down at the phone. "Hey Missus Perkins. This is Matthew. Is my mother still lurking around there? -- Thanks."

"Lurking? What, she a zombie or something?"

Mattie smiles sideways. "Hey Mom. How's everything going? -- Just wanted to let you know we're fixin' to leave Cutbank. -- We'll be safe, don't worry. By the way, Lem's parrents are gonna be outta town an extra night. She was wondering if he could stay over for a night. -- Yeah. -- Can you call her? She's on her cell phone."

A few guys walk by. Decked out in boots and Wranglers and cowboy hats. I nod at them as they pass. Catch myself watchin' the patches on their back pockets bounce around as they go up the hall. Thank God for Wrangler jeans. I wonder what's wrong with my head.

"The number's still in your date book. -- Okay. -- Yeah, we're leaving now. Lem said he's gonna call her when we get back. I'll let you know when I get to the house. -- You too. Bye." He hangs up.

We start down the hallway. "What about Ronnie?"

Mattie looks at me. "What about him?"

"He's not gonna be around, is he?"

"Don't worry about it, man. I told him off. He's going to be at Jenny's anyway."

I hope to God he is. I think Ronnie's about half crazy, sometimes.

# # #

I'm drifting in and out. Hear the birds outside starting to chirp. A rooster crows.

Mattie pulls the blankets up over his ears. Mumbles a little.

I'm not used to sleeping with someone else. I think we keep waking each other up. I start dozing off again. Last night's playing in my head like an old movie. Everything about Mattie feels incredible. Thinking about it starts off a hard chain reaction. We might have to take care of it as soon as we feel like waking up.

...Numbness... feel his heart beating... He's warm. My brain shuts off. Get that feeling again, where I'm flipping head over feet. Just floating. Tingling everywhere. Warmth...

There's something against my throat. Sharp and cold, right under my jaw. I probably wouldn't think anything of it if it wasn't about to choke me. I open my eyes.

My heart feels like it's gonna explode, it's racin' so fast.

I'm on the business end of a double-barrel. Ronnie has it right at my neck. He's holding it out away from him with one hand. Clint Eastwood style. If he fires a shotgun off like that, it'll probably rip his arm clean off. Still make swiss cheese outta me.

I sit up and scurry back. Try to claw my way up the wall, but I don't think I'm gonna get anywhere. Knock into Mattie with my foot.

Ronnie keeps the gun steady, keeps it pressed to my jugular.

Mattie rolls over and looks over his shoulder. Jumps back and falls off the bed.

My balls are tingling. Everything is shaking. I don't even feel my legs right now. I think I might just piss myself.

"You don't listen well, do you? I told you to leave him alone."

My lip's quivering. I don't think I could talk if I tried.

"Ronnie, stop it. Put the gun down." Mattie's trying his best to stay calm, but I can hear him breaking down in his voice.

Ronnie doesn't even look at him. "I told you if anyone hurt him, I'd kill 'em. I gave you your chance. I told you what would happen if you ever stepped foot in this house again."

"Ronnie, knock it off. I told you it wasn't any of your business, now put down the fucking gun!"

"Matthew, just you shut your mouth." He pushes it into my neck harder, forces my head back into the wall. "You're just tempting me in all the wrong ways. I will not see anyone in my family hurt. Even if it means I end you now."

"Ronnie, stop it! Put down the fuckin' gun!" Shadow's got tears in his eyes.

Ronnie screams at him. "Shut the fuck up!" Blinks at me a few times, like it's playing out in his head. The feel of the trigger against his finger. The build up. The pull. He's thinkin' about it, I know he is.

"They'll know you done it, Ronnie. Just, please, put it down. Walk away."

"Mattie, they ain't gonna find a body." He thrusts it into my neck again. God, he know's he's gonna do it. He's got it in his head.

I'm in a corner with nowhere to go. I cough a little.

Mattie stands up. Slowly reaches for the barrel. Crawls up on the bed, inching closer and closer to the gun.

"Matthew, step back or I'm gonna pull the trigger. I will."

Mattie kneels on the bed next to me. "Then you better kill me first."

"This don't concern you. It's me an' Lem, Matthew. Stay outta this."

"You have a kid now, Ronnie. If you kill him, you'd never see your baby again."

I feel the pressure against my neck lighten a little. Stays quiet for a minute. You could hear a pin drop, if someone was so inclined to drop one.

Something happens. It doesn't seem real. Mattie's got the barrel pinned against the wall with one hand, pushes me back with his free arm. I didn't even see him lunge for it.

I tumble off the bed, try to get back against the other wall.

Mattie forces the gun back, pushes butt right into Ronnie's chest. Ronnie's still wrapped around the trigger. He stumbles back. The gun gets away from Mattie. Looks like Mattie's gonna follow Ronnie all the way to the floor. Try to get control of the gun.

Ronnie lands flat on his ass. A spark. Smoke. Smell of gun powder. My ears pop, and all I hear is ringing. My own muffled breathing.

I scream out Mattie's name.


Please let me know what you think of the story. Send critiques to with the subject "Lem.". Thanks for reading!